Since 2015, when Monsanto launched soybean and cotton seeds genetically modified to resist dicamba, use of the toxic weed killer has surged. Since then millions of acres of soybeans and other broadleaf crops have been decimated by dicamba drift, amounting to millions of dollars in losses.
Early in 2017, when dicamba was first allowed on GM crops, 2.5 million acres of soy were damaged and 1400 complaints registered. A new report shows the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) could have avoided the calamity but ignored warnings from scientists and state officials. In October, the Trump Administration approved renewal of dicamba for another two years, saying new label instructions will avert harm to non-target crops.
That devastates farmers like Missouri’s Andrew Joyce, who had to mow under his tomatoes for three years in a row. Missouri’s top peach farmer Bill Bader lost tens of thousands of trees worth $1 million; he and dozens of others are suing Monsanto. The issue divides communities and farmers—even resulting in the murder of a farmer involved in a dicamba drift dispute.
Monsanto and the EPA created a “worst-case scenario,” said David Mortensen, an ecologist who researched dicamba drift and its impact on bees. “Dicamba-resistant crops should never have been released, period,” he said, citing the “profound risk” to broadleaf crops, especially during the summer heat.
But EPA chose to hear Monsanto’s claims that dicamba wouldn’t drift. The complex label instructions also shifted the liability onto applicators, not the product manufacturer. Monsanto has collaborated for years with the EPA, which used the company’s research to show volatility wasn’t a concern. Those studies don’t reflect actual happenings in the field, says weed scientist Jason Norsworthy.
“This is a product that is broken,” Norsworthy told Arkansas officials. “That is what the data says, and…that’s a problem I can’t fix.”
Arkansas has banned summer dicamba applications.
Source: Food and Environment Reporting Network
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